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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/58

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Part I.
HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

substances are rough and angular, and marked by strong contrasts and deep lines. Among trees, the oak is rugged, and its branches are at right angles to its stem, or to one another. The lines of the willow are rounded and flowing. The forms of children and women are round and full, and free from violent contrasts; those of men are abrupt, hard and angular in proportion to the vigor and strength of their frame.

In consequence of these properties, as a general rule the square or angular parts ought always to be placed below, where strength is wanted, and the rounded above. If, for instance, a tower is to be built the lower story should not only be square, but should be marked by buttresses or other strong lines, and the masonry rusticated, so as to convey even a greater appearance of strength. Above this, if the square form is still retained, it may be with more elegance and less accentuation. The form may then change to an octagon, that to a polygon of sixteen sides, and then be surmounted by a circular form of any sort. These conditions are not absolute, but the reverse arrangement would be manifestly absurd. A tower with a circular base and a square upper story is what almost no art could render tolerable, while the other pleases by its innate fitness without any extraordinary effort of design.

On the other hand, round pillars are more pleasing as supports for a square architrave, not so much from any inherent fitness for the purpose as from the effect of contrast, and flat friezes are preferable to curved ones of the late Roman styles from the same cause. The angular mouldings introduced among the circular shafts of a Gothic coupled pillar, add immensely to the brilliancy of effect. Where everything is square and rugged, as in a Druidical trilithon, the effect may be sublime, but it cannot be elegant; where everything is rounded, as in the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the perfection of elegance may be attained, but never sublimity. Perfection, as usual, lies between these extremes.


X.—Proportion.

The properties above enumerated may be characterized as the mechanical principles of design. Size, stability, construction, material, and many such, are elements at the command of the engineer or mason, as well as of the architect, and a building remarkable for these properties only, cannot be said to rise above the lowest grade of architectural excellence. They are invaluable adjuncts in the hands of the true artist, but ought never to be the principal elements of design.

After these the two most important resources at the command of the architect are Proportion and Ornament; the former enabling him